From the Archives: The review: ‘Rocky Horror’ a Sci-Fi spoof
Then-L.A. Times staff writer Kevin Thomas knew “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was destined to be a cult hit. In this flashback to his original printed interview (published on Sept. 26, 1975), he praised the movie for its lunacy, joking that the premise was actually “less depraved than it sounds.” And “too exuberant and too funny to be seriously decadent.” Let us take you back to when the world started to become slowly exposed to the fabulousness that is and always will be the “Time Warp.”
THE OLD CAGE ELEVATOR DESCENDS into a Pop Artish ballroom and deposits a figure in garish makeup, spangled vest and elbow-length gloves, black bikini black opera hose and steep ankle-strap wedgies.
No, it’s not Raquel Welch. It’s Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N Furter, making his grand entrance in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (at the UA Westwood), an outrageous camp musical based on the stage hit “The Rocky Horror Show.”
Dr. Frank N Furter, who’s really from another planet — Transsexual — in another galaxy — Transylvania — is kicking off the Annual Transylvanian Convention being held in his moldy Gothic castle, where the creepy delegates are doing a new dance, the Time Warp.
Just before Dr. Frank N Furter’s arrival, a couple of square kids, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and his fiancee Janet (Susan Sarandon), have come to the castle seeking shelter during a violent storm. (In the time-honored fashion they’ve had a flat tire — but while listening to President Nixon’s resignation speech on the radios!).
Now the highlight of the convention is to be the unveiling —more specifically, the unwrapping— of Dr. Frank N Furter’s creation, a blond, blue-eyes Adonis (Peter Hinwood) dubbed Rocky Horror.
Rocky, alas, seems to have more of a yen for Janet than for his creator, who, in turn, has a yen apiece for Brad and Janet.
All of this plays less depraved than it sounds, but “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is unquestionably consenting-adult fare. “Young Frankenstein” it isn’t, but then again it also isn’t the morbid Grand Guignol-gory outing that “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” and “Andy Warhol’s Dracula” were. This Richard O’Brien musical is simply too exuberant and too funny to be seriously decadent. Indeed, there’s an underlying quality of tenderness and even innocence in this loving send-up of horror and sci-fi flicks and celebration of post-graduate sexuality.
One big musical number follows another, climaxed by an extravaganza featuring Curry wondering, in song, whatever happened to Fay Wray as he stands before a stage set re-creating the old RKO logo. Rocky, Brad and Janet, having been temporarily zapped into statuary — the easier to dress them in outfits identical to Dr. Frank N Furter’s — reawaken to form a chorus with Curry before diving into a pool decorated on its bottom with that section of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling depicting the creation of Adam — a bottoming-out of taste, as it were.
Our now happy quartet, however, has not reckoned with Dr. Frank N Furter’s jealous servant, the cadaverous Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), and his sexy sister, Magenta (Patricia Quinn).
Adapted for the screen by its original stage director, Jim Sharman, and designed by Brian Thomson, who also created the setting for the stage version. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” moves fast and looks slick. Performances are amusing, including that of Curry, who created deep-voiced beneath his sequined elegance. Among other excellent principals is Charles Gray, the film’s smarty insinuating narrator.
Let’s do the “Time Warp” again:
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